August 28, 2018 / 8:00 AM / 4 months ago

Watch brand IWC opens new factory, expands ecommerce

CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr of Swiss watch manufacturer IWC delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of a new IWC factory in Schaffhausen, Switzerland August 27, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

SCHAFFHAUSEN, Switzerland (Reuters) - Swiss watch brand IWC, owned by luxury goods group Richemont (CFR.S), inaugurated a new manufacturing site in its hometown of Schaffhausen as it gets ready to meet growing demand for its timepieces.

“We are very optimistic, you can see that in Swiss watch export figures,” Christoph Grainger-Herr told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the opening ceremony on Monday.

“Asia Pacific has recovered and the U.S. also shows a good development,” he said.

Swiss watch exports rose 10 percent in the first seven months of the year, driven by a 29 percent increase in their No.1 market, Hong Kong, that bounced back after a severe downturn.

IWC, which is known for its Pilot’s watches and its Da Vinci and Portugieser collections, invested 42 million Swiss francs ($42.2 million) in the new site that now has 238 staff but capacity for up to 400.

The brand is also pushing its ecommerce activities, expanding its online boutique to all of Europe in September after first launching it in the United States last year.

“The U.S. and the United Kingdom are generally more open to ecommerce,” said Grainger-Herr, who took over as chief executive of IWC last year.

He said the brand that celebrates its 150th birthday this year would also keep growing its monobrand store network by five to 10 stores each year.

Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Michael Shields

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